NY Governor Andrew Cuomo sees advances in tourism through the Empire State Trail, new construction at Woodbury Commons interchange, reductions in government services duplication and increased recognition of outstanding teachers.
PURCHASE – Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his Mid-Hudson regional State of the State Address today at SUNY Purchase. Governor Cuomo plans six regional speeches this year – a break from the traditional event in Albany before a joint session of the Legislature and invited guests.
In his speech today, the governor proposed completing the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway trails by 2020 to create the Empire State Trail, the largest state multi-use trail in the nation. To achieve this, the state will develop 350 miles of new trail in three phases to create a 750-mile pathway for hiking and biking along scenic vistas and through charming, historic communities. The Empire State Trail will span much of the state, from the New York Harbor up through the Adirondack Mountains to the Canadian border – and from the shores of Lake Erie along the historic Erie Canal to the heart of the Capital Region.
Regarding high property taxes in New York, which the governor said in his speech “are killing the state”, he introduced an initiative to reduce property taxes by empowering voters to approve locally-designed plans that eliminate duplicative services to lower the cost of local government. The proposal requires county officials to develop localized plans that find real, recurring property tax savings by coordinating and eliminating duplicative services and proposing coordinated services to enhance purchasing power, such as jointly purchasing and coordinating use of expensive transportation or emergency equipment. Taxpayers will then vote on these cost-saving plans in a referendum in the November 2017 general election.
Governor Cuomo also announced the acceleration of a $150 million reconstruction project to build the Town of Woodbury Transit and Economic Development Hub. Due to its connection to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, a regional economic engine, the Route 17/32 corridor is plagued by extremely high seasonal traffic, and the resulting congestion and travel delays stifle additional economic development in the area. The project, which will create nearly 600 jobs, will expand the Route 32 corridor, replace the Route 32 bridge over Route 17, reconfigure the ramp leading to the New York State Thruway, and add a solar-powered bus station and a commuter parking lot and an interconnected traffic system to improve access and allow for increased commercial activity.
In education, the governor proposed to extend the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Awards to honor 60 additional teachers. Winners will receive an honor from the Governor, the opportunity to advise education policy makers, and a stipend of $5,000. The funds can be used for continued learning and professional endeavors. This includes covering fees for national board certification, additional university courses, or attendance at a state or national conference.